My tap-and-pay card stopped chirping the other day, and the bank promised to send me a new one.

In the mail.

It was hardly a crisis. The rest of the card’s functions still worked.

But even as Canada Post and the Canadian Union of Postal Workers bicker, there are worries for people who have essential cards, legal papers, presents and passports on the way.

For them, the threat of important letters and parcels languishing in some postal warehouse during a long labour dispute remains a serious concern.

Alternative plans

A visit to several bank branches indicated many are not yet telling people about alternative plans. A TD teller said cards were still being sent through the mail.

My own branch told me that if my card failed to arrive the bank could replace it with a temporary one — without all the functions — but for the real card I would have to wait till the end of any postal dispute.

A spokesperson for RBC says the bank has backup plans in place.

“Many services provided by mail can also be delivered in our branches, or using online and telephone banking services,” says the RBC’s Catherine Hudon. That includes obtaining new or replacement bank cards.

Harried workers

While out for a run on a day off this past week, I noticed an unusual number of big brown UPS  trucks prowling the neighbourhood, two of them back to back as the drivers transferred mail and parcels.

“If there’s a strike, we’re screwed,” said one of the harried-looking drivers, obviously speaking for the delivery workers, not the company that is already getting a flood of new business.

UPS Postal Dispute

A harried UPS delivery worker is loaded down with parcels as customers look for alternatives for fear of shipments being lost during a Canada Post labour dispute. (CBC)

He said the clothing store Gap had already decided to switch from Canada Post to UPS.

Asked for  comment, Gap said, “At this time, we are delivering orders to customers in our Canadian network using multiple carriers, including UPS.”

UPS spokesperson Nirali Raval confirms that business has already picked up at the company that claims to be the world’s largest parcel delivery service, but refugees from Canada Post cannot expect the same service as regular customers.

More worry, less junk

“In the result of a Canada Post work stoppage, UPS Canada top priority is to serve our existing customers and their volume,” said Raval in an email.

But Raval says new customers are welcome to try the UPS alternative service, where you can drop off and pick up parcels at storefronts.

Other parcel delivery services confirm there has been increased demand and slower service as worried shippers move business away from Canada Post.

In my case, I escaped the annoyance of wondering whether my bank card would arrive. The new card showed up in the mailbox this week.

But even if the two sides can reach a compromise and avert a threatened lockout, if that deal creeps to an end without a resolution, those waiting for that special letter or parcel will once again have reason to worry.

But on the bright side, in my box anyway, there is already less junk mail.

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